La Bamba closes, African restaurant to take its place

PHOTO BY MICHELLE OWNBEY

Diners will no longer be able to get a burrito as big as their head, but a new restaurant is already in the works for the former La Bamba space.

The Mexican restaurant at 1731 S. MacArthur Blvd. closed over Easter weekend, due to what owner Ramiro Aguas referred to as staffing issues with that particular location. “We had a problem with the manager and employees there; we were getting tired of that and decided to rent the space,” he said. "Our other locations are all doing well."

Ramiro Aguas and his brother, Antonio, founded La Bamba in 1987. The Champaign-based company now has seven locations in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

La Bamba purchased the MacArthur Boulevard property in 2012, and Aguas said for now, he will be a landlord for another restaurant owner. He confirmed that he has leased the space to Ansumana Darboe, who plans to open an African restaurant. Signs reading "Traveler's Restaurant opening soon" have been posted in the windows of the property. Darboe could not immediately be reached for comment.

For now, La Bamba fans will have to drive to Champaign or Normal, but Aguas said he hasn’t ruled out a reopening.

“Eventually, we might open up in Springfield again,” he said.

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